Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks and Nolan Ryan were born today, so let's watch their top highlights
Eons ago, on Jan. 31 -- somewhere between Iowa and reality -- a man in a white robe suddenly appeared on the horizon and declared this day to be one in which baseball superheroes would descend upon our planet ...
OK, maybe that's mostly taken from a 1990's movie starring John Travolta as an angel, but still -- Jan. 31 is a magical day in MLB history. For it is the date that Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks and Nolan Ryan were all born. It is, arguably, the greatest baseball birthday. Let us celebrate with some important moments from each of the Hall of Famer's illustrious careers.
Ryan, who played for an unreal 27 years, has an absurd number of career highlights. One of his more ridiculous feats, though, was hitting the 5,000-strikeout mark. He retired with 5,714 -- almost 1,000 ahead of second-place finisher Randy Johnson.
There's also those record seven no-hitters, the last one pitched on grit and 44-year-old dad strength:
And, of course, that time he taught Robin Ventura lesson:
Mr. Cub, who sadly passed away a year before his team won its historic World Series, was one of the great power hitters of his era. He hit 512 homers -- redefining what kind of offense could be expected out of the shortstop position:
He hit 40-plus dingers five times and, in 1958 and 1959, became the first NL player to win back-to-back NL MVPs.
Mostly, though, Banks was remembered for his infectious optimism and love for baseball and life:
Robinson is one of the most important figures in American history for his integration of baseball 70 years ago, but he was also an incredibly gifted athlete on the field. He led the league in steals twice and stole home 19 times -- including once in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series:
He's also one of just four players to post a rWAR greater than 9.5 twice. He compiled a 9.6 mark when he won the NL MVP in 1949 and a 9.7 in '51. The other players to accomplish the feat are Ted Williams, Joe Morgan and Mickey Mantle.
But of course, we need to come back to April 15, 1947 -- Robinson's debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the moment baseball's color barrier ceased to exist. Watch his day on the diamond below: